UNLABELLED Memory for intraoperative events may arise from inadequate anesthesia when the hypnotic state is not continuously monitored. Electroencephalogram bispectral index (BIS) enables monitoring of the hypnotic state and titration of anesthesia to an adequate level (BIS 40 to 60). At this level, preserved memory function has been observed in trauma patients. We investigated memory formation in elective surgical outpatients during target-controlled propofol anesthesia supplemented with alfentanil. While BIS remained between 40 and 60, patients listened to a tape with either familiar instances (exemplars) from two categories (Experimental [E] group, n = 41) or bird sounds (Control [C] group, n = 41). After recovery, memory was tested directly and indirectly. BIS during audio presentation was on average (+/- SD) 44 +/- 5 and 46 +/- 5 for Groups E and C, respectively. No patient consciously recalled the intraoperative period, nor were presented words recognized reliably (Group E, 0.9 +/- 0.8 hits; Group C, 0.8 +/- 0.8 hits) (P = 0.7). When asked to generate category exemplars, Group E named 2.10 +/- 1.0 hits versus 1.98 +/- 1.0 in Group C (P = 0.9). We found no explicit or implicit memory effect of familiar words presented during adequate propofol anesthesia at BIS levels between 40 and 60 in elective surgical patients. IMPLICATIONS This study suggests that stable levels of adequate hypnosis may prevent information processing and memory formation during general anesthesia and supports the feasibility of electroencephalogram bispectral index as a monitor of adequate anesthesia.